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Airplane offenses: The stinky installment

By Katia Hetter, Special to CNN
updated 4:44 PM EST, Tue March 6, 2012
Mmmmm, tasty cheese. But do not take this on your flight.
Mmmmm, tasty cheese. But do not take this on your flight.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An in-flight argument over applying nail polish resulted in an arrest
  • Certain foods and activities are frowned upon by other passengers
  • Ensure a peaceful flight by leaving strong odors on the ground

(CNN) -- If painting your nails on a flight can get you arrested, why can't stinkier airplane offenses get some attention from the sensitive noses of our nation's flight attendants and law enforcement?

Jeanie Daniels told CNN affiliate KTRK-TV in Houston that she was painting her nails in her seat on a recent Southwest Airlines flight from California to see her Houston-based boyfriend. When a flight attendant asked her to stop, she did. But she decided to finish the last two nails in the airplane bathroom. A confrontation when she came out prompted her to use some profane language with another flight attendant, which got her arrested when the plane landed in Houston.

There is no need for you to punish your fellow travelers with your bathing, food or beauty choices. Really.

A recent CNN commenter writes: "I am a flight attendant and in the past have had to tell a wife to stop trimming her husband's toenails (yes, they were flying everywhere), tell mothers to please refrain from using the tray tables to change their babies, and look away in disgust as passengers used the cloth napkins in "first class" to blow their noses and then hand them back to me. The worst odors are either peeling a hardboiled egg or painting one's nails."

Please don't stink

We understand that travelers can't always control the occasional inadvertent burp or passing of gas. But we advise travelers with sensitivities to avoid any food that might cause you (and your fellow passengers) distress before a flight. And don't disrobe a stink bomb in the cabin in the form of your smelly feet. "We had a flight with a guy who took his shoes off and honestly stunk up the whole cabin. We were literally gagging," writes one flier scarred by a malodorous journey. Our message to the offender: Put your shoes back on.

Five things not to do on airplanes

There are some things you can control. Please shower, brush and floss your teeth before you fly. And don't forget that all-important antiperspirant. If bad breath is a sign of halitosis, please see your doctor. Many travelers complain of being forced to sit next to someone who is clearly a stinker. Try to avoid being that person. (If in doubt, ask a trusted loved one to tell you the truth about your smells.)

A traveler's plea: "Even if it's an early morning flight, take a shower. The 'French Bath' doesn't cut it and makes me sick."

Please don't eat stinky food

A hand-carried Durian fruit that was "unpeeled and overly ripe" was the stinkiest item one traveler reports smelling on a flight: "Remember, the smell is from the outer skin and not the inner fruity flesh/pulp." Durian is known to be stinky. Do not bring stinky food on a flight -- not fruit, not cheese, not your mama's barbeque -- even for your lunch. You are in tight quarters with your seatmates who will not appreciate the smell of your brie mixing with the smell of another flier's tuna fish sandwich. (We get nauseous just thinking about it.) Instead pack a nice, healthy, boring salad with a nontoxic dressing on the side. Have an apple, some plain potato chips or a not freshly baked cookie.

The passenger isn't always the offender. A traveler reports that he was on a flight where the airline handed out sandwiches that caused the stink. "When we leveled off and (were) told we could eat, everyone unsealed their sandwiches. The sandwich? Italian roast beef with Italian-type dressing. It stunk up the ENTIRE plane."

Don't change a diaper

So many travelers have reported seeing a mom change a baby's diaper on a tray table that we now believe this is more than an airborne urban legend. If it is true, please stop. We know you desperate parents must be facing a poop-tastrophe to try such a thing. Instead, please travel with a large trash bag to contain your child up to his or her arms until you can safety move to the airline lavatory.

The cosmetic assault

Your perfume, perfumed soaps and other deliberately scented beauty products may be animal-cruelty free, but have they been tested on humans in tight quarters? Travelers, please save the perfume and other smelly beauty products for home base. These smells have no place on an airplane. You smell great just the way you are -- if you are clean, we mean.

Otherwise it could cost you. Who wants to spend time in a Houston jail instead of in the arms of your beloved? A judge dismissed the abusive profane language charge after Daniels, the nail polish offender, spent more than 10 hours in jail.

When it's the airline's fault

The bathroom just stank. After numerous delays and a landing to refuel, the lavatory on a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Honolulu gave up, one traveler reports. It was so stinky that a flight attendant gave passengers coffee grounds to hold to their noses. At 30,000 feet, the only thing to do is wait it out and complain upon landing. Otherwise you might get into an altercation that could lead to your arrest. (Again, see nail polisher above).

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